Pangasius

Pangasianodon hypophthalmus

Sources, Quantities and Cultivation Methods

Source and Quantities

There are some 28 species within the family Pangasiidae1. Under UK fish labelling regulations2 any species of this family can be called pangasius, or panga(s), basa or river cobbler, and any of these names can be used along with the word ‘catfish’. Other names include swai, tra, cream dory, silver striped catfish, sutchi catfish and Vietnamese catfish. Pangasius were once an important freshwater fishery in the Mekong River3 but this has declined and wild populations are classified as endangered4.

Pangasius farming was traditionally small-scale and based on the capture of wild juveniles5. The development of artificial propagation techniques in the mid 1990’s led to the development of commercial hatcheries6, 7. Hatcheries greatly reduced the demand on wild seed and led to a rapid expansion of floating net-pen culture in Mekong Delta waterways. Net-pen farming has since declined and pangasius are now primarily reared in ponds8.

Pangasianodon hypophthalmus dominates pangasius farming and this is the species imported into Europe and the UK.

By 2012 pangasius production had increased to 2.4 million tonnes and has since remained relatively stable9. Vietnam continues to be at the centre of production. In Vietnam there are approximately 6,000 hectares of ponds producing 1.19 million tonnes of pangasius in 201610, with the majority of production coming from larger, integrated farms11.

Global pangasius production in 2018 was some 2.8 million tonnes, with a value of almost US$3.6 billion. As well as Vietnam, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia are main producers as the map shows. Caribbean nations such as Cuba, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic culture small volumes10.

Global Pangasius Production: Key Locations and Volumes 2018 (10)

Domestic Market Information12, 13

From 2008 to 2018 pangasius has been the fastest growing species (from a small base) in Great British retail (i.e. in England, Scotland and Wales); growing in value and volume by 1,138% and 1,075% respectively from a base of £4.1 million and 504 tonnes in 2008. Strong growth used to be driven by a relatively low average price, but recent increases have seen the average price matching that of cod.

In 2018, UK pangasius retail sales were worth £62.9 million (+6.9% compared to the previous year) with a volume of 8,123 tonnes (-2.2%), average price £7.75 per kg; ranking 10th by value (in the 52 weeks to 16/06/2018 (including discounters).

In 2018, the UK imported 12,970 tonnes of pangasius.

Note: the difference between the volume of pangasius sold in UK retail and that which is imported is due to its use in the foodservice industry (e.g. restaurants) (no data available) and that which is re-exported.

Production method5

Pangasius broodstock are induced to spawn via hormonal injections. Larvae hatch after 24 hours, absorb the yolk-sac, and are then stocked in specially prepared ponds to feed on small crustaceans such as moina (a water flea).  They are then fed supplementary feeds such as boiled egg and soya bean for the first two weeks, followed by commercial aquafeeds.

After one month, the fry are transferred to nursery ponds for a further two months. They are then transferred to grow-out ponds at 14-20 g, at stocking densities of 40-60 fish/m2. After a grow-out period of 6-7 months, the fish are harvested by partially draining the pond, netting and transfer to processing factories. Transfer for processing in areas such as the Mekong, is by well-boat (a vessel with wells or tanks for the storage or transport of live fish)5.

Pangasius Production Schematic (adapted from 5)

References

  1. Fish Base
  2. Defra
  3. Hall, A.S. and Johns, M., 2013. Assessment of the Vulnerability of the Mekong Delta Pangasius Industry to Development and Climate Change in the Lower Mekong Basin. Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, January, 2013
  4. IUCN
  5. FAO
  6. Sinh, L.X. and Hien, L.L., 2010. Supply and Use of Catfish (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus) Seed in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Aquaculture Asia magazine, Vol. XV, No. 1, Jan-Mar, 2010
  7. Cacot, P. et al, 2002. Induced ovulation of Pangasius bocourti (Sauvage, 1880) with a progressive hCG treatment. Aquaculture, Vol. 213, Iss. 1-4, 2002, p199-206
  8. De Silva, S.S. and Phuong, N.T., 2011. Striped Catfish Farming in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam: A Tumultuous Path to Global Success. Reviews in Aquaculture, 3, 2011, p45-73
  9. GOAL
  10. FAO FishStatJ
  11. Seafood TIP
  12. AC Nielson
  13. HMRC